Arts & Culture

List photography exhibit explores concept of abstraction

“Recent Acquisitions” curated by Jo-Ann Conklin showcases the work of 12 photographers

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Artwork by 12 photographers lines the walls of List Art Center Lobby, focusing on abstractions through various approaches. Work by Bill Jacobson ‘77 examines rectangles through photographs of the real world. Some of the exhibited photographs explored the boundaries between two- and three-dimensional artwork.

Bill Jacobson ’77, alongside eleven other photographers, is complicating the notion of “abstraction” on College Hill.

The artists’ work is featured in the List Art Center lobby as part of “Recent Acquisitions: Photography and Abstraction” — a photo exhibit that runs from Jan. 19 to May 26. The second of List’s recent exhibits showcasing new additions to its photography collection, “Recent Acquisitions” was curated by Jo-Ann Conklin, director of the Bell Gallery. The exhibit is meant to give a platform to artists like Jacobson, who meditate on the abstract and its power to manipulate subject and interpretation.

“Recent Acquisitions” features photographs that express subjects and themes in a myriad of abstractions, whether it be through the use of color, space, frame or material. Some pieces seem to intentionally question the audience’s definitions and expectations of abstraction as a label for art.

“There is always that question about photography of whether you can do something that is truly abstract,” given that the form captures the life references in front of the lens, Conklin said.

Jacobson’s series involves photographs of the real world and explores the common theme of rectangles in our physical space.

“I wanted to synthesize that down and find the essence of that rectangle and then create my own image that used it as a primary subject,” Jacobson said.

In “Place (Series) #512,” what seems like a simple red square against a white background,  is actually a photograph of a red card lying against a wall.

“The picture refers to abstraction because it eliminates a lot of information, and photography sits between the middle,” Jacobson added. “It raises the question of what is abstract.”

“The argument on abstraction really exists on levels of information of what we know in our conscious brain,” he said. “Once things start to elude (to) what we consciously know, it is very easy to lump it into this realm of abstraction instead of defining and saying what it is.”

Some works in the gallery were not only images; they explored interrelated materials, which alter the audience’s perception.

Iman Husain ‘22, who visited the exhibit, was particularly interested in Christiane Feser’s “Modell Konstrukt 97, 2015.”

“The two-dimensional image and the sculpted three-dimensional qualities really challenge the expectations of a certain material,” Husain said

Miranda Luiz ‘22, another visitor, was intrigued by Marilyn Bridges’ “Geometrics, Lone Wolf, Oklahoma, 1987” because of its study on the reflexive relationship between humans and the environment. “It’s not obvious that the photo is of farmland. The scene seems alien and distant, especially because it is cropped,” she said.

Bill Jacobson will be returning to the University on March 12 for a lecture.

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